'Crazy legs' awarded new GM scholarship

Jan 28, 2005

A Burton, Mich., man is the first recipient of the General Motors Ability Scholarship.

His sense of humor is very revealing.

Ryan Prescott uses the moniker of "crazy legs" in his e-mail address. When he needed to dissemble something for his solid-edge drafting applications class, he chose his fifth-grade wheelchair.

No wonder this future engineer from Burton, Mich., is the first recipient of the $5,000 General Motors Ability Scholarship at Kettering University. A 2004 Kearsley High School graduate, the freshman Mechanical Engineering major hopes to get into product development one day. His co-op employer is General Motors, where he is working in product development. His first co-op term was spent at GM's Warren Tech Center.

"This is a real honor," Prescott said about receiving the scholarship. "This is a big help in off-setting the cost of my education. I think it's good that GM does this sort of thing to encourage people with disabilities to get into the field."

Sheri Campeau, GM's University Relations Team Coordinator, is very pleased with the GM Ability Scholarship, too. "We had just finalized our GM Ability Scholarship when I met Ryan at a Kettering career fair," Campeau said. "Ryan shared with me that he loved basketball and since he could not actually play for his high school team he chose to keep score and be a part of the team in any way he could. I was so impressed with his attitude I immediately shared the information about this new scholarship and encouraged him to apply. When I learned that he would be our first recipient I was thrilled."

Prescott came to Kettering because of its co-op opportunities. He has found the small classes and accessible faculty an asset to his education. "If you want to go into engineering, you can't find a better place than Kettering," he said, "and it's nice that it's right here at home."

Prescott has spent much of his life dealing with Muscular Dystrophy, but he doesn't talk about it much. "I like to make the best out of everything. It's the way I grew up. My parents and my church taught me to make the most of my opportunities. Mix in some humor and my friends, and there you have it," he added.

Neeru Sharma, a 1993 Kettering graduate from Sterling Heights, thinks the GM Ability Scholarship is an important addition to the two organizations. Sharma is an assistant program manager on GM's LeSabre and DeVille carryover program. She is also a member of GM diversity and mobility committees committed to improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

"I think the scholarship is a great way to entice motivated, intelligent people who happen to have a disability and want to come to Kettering," she said. "The scholarship allows us to compete with other universities that already provide scholarships to people with disabilities. The scholarship reinforces GM's and Kettering's commitment to diversity," she added.

Jack Stock, Kettering's senior advancement officer, credits Sharma for taking the scholarship idea to her employer to get the new scholarship started. "Her personal contribution speaks to the level of passion and commitment she has for getting people with disabilities into engineering and business," he said.

Stock said Sharma worked with executives at General Motors and Kettering to assist in the development of the scholarship. Sharma was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a rare brittle bone disease. While at Kettering, she lived on campus like other students, majored in Management, and also was a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority.

Sharma noted that both the school and the company went through their processes for developing the scholarship. "I was happy to provide an advisory role on what people with disabilities needed. I think it's wonderful," she added. "A lot of people made this happen - Kettering was supportive and the GM coordinators cooperated to make sure funding was available.

"Ryan has a great attitude, works hard and doesn't allow his physical disability to limit him," Sharma said. "I am encouraging him to stay positive, work hard and enjoy the Kettering experience."

Written by Pat Mroczek
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